Saturday, 20 July 2013

Return of the 'Guess the Weight of the Stinky Dead Fish Competition'

My project on the River Sowe has taken a back seat to actually fishing for fish rather than trying to nurture habitat for them, but I've crawled backdown through the head high stingers from time to time to monitor a stream now on its bones, and the fish are still there I'm pleased to say despite the trickle of water passing through.

The roach and perch populations change daily. Once the shoal held a number of large roach, then there was only one matron left guarding her charge of striplings. The largest perch moved upstream and began harrying the minnows in the pool only to return a few days later presumably stuffed full. Then the large roach were back, only to vanish overnight. What's going on I cannot say, only that what is going on is healthy and good.

Peering into the water I noticed the shoal had gained new members. Besides the perch and roach were smaller fish that for a time I couldn't make out clearly, but then the sun emerged from behind a cloud and it was clear they were fair sized gudgeon. Three of them there were, and I watched them a while flitting here and there when out of the blue, who came to join them but a monster!

A simply huge gonk this. Compared to its brethren who were half its size and alongside roach whose weight I can tell you to the ounce from past experience of watching and then catching from the same stream, I estimated if not a record breaker then at least a shaker. It was 8 or 9 inches long!

Then, walking upstream to an area of slack water fringed with reeds, there belly up in the mud was a dead thing with fins. Picking it up and turning it over in the palm of my hand I was shocked to see a fish that I really thought might be have been a valid claim had it been caught on rod and line!

The biggest bullhead I've ever seen, it was getting on for 5 inches in length. Three times the size of any of the very few I've ever caught myself, I simply had no frame of reference to gauge it by.

Leaving it behind I went home and checked the record weight — 1 oz.

Grabbing my 2lb set of Salters from the kitchen I returned with a doggie poo bag and set to the task of weighing it as accurately as possible. Now zeroing manual spring balances for large fish is not exactly an exact science is it? Near enough is near enough. Getting that pointer bang on zero when drams make all the difference in the world with a poo bag weighing next to nothing but actually weighing something, was a trial of patience. But when satisfied, the little big fish was dumped in the bag and hung off the hook.


I very nearly fell over on my pins when the pointer sailed way, way past the ounce mark...

Then I remembered the divisions on this set were not in whole ounces but halves!


Amazingly, a day later I came across another just as dead but equally impressive downstream a way. Once again I set off home for the scales. At just a smidgeon under four and a half inches in length but with such a huge fat head it seemed enormous though the scales returned a lesser weight than for the first.

Still an impressive fish though and proof positive that this river can produce astonishing things given half a chance.


It's been a while, but in my Xmas hard-drive melt down I lost a few spanking specimens to the grave of dead data that I should have published when I found them.  Later I weighed in a dead silver bream hybrid but published that as part of a straight blog when I really should have done one of these bent ones with it.

As Mark H commented on that blog ~

"I rather like the guess the weight competitions and why are you selling your bike?'

Well there's no half an answer to that, but ...

Hazard an educated guess at the weight of the stinky dead fish, if you please!


  1. I'm planning to start catching these small fishes for a bit of fun, any tips to catch the millers thumb on rod and line ?

  2. I think pinkies, Mick.

    Couple of years ago Danny Everitt researched a bullhead venue par extraordinaire, and then he went and caught! Think he had ten of them from the Blythe. Something like that. Drop him a line.

    You're welcome to come try for these Sowe monsters if you like. If not, then all I can suggest is fish very shallow streamy water near the rocks they live under most of the time. If there's no cover for them they won't be there is all I think I know at the moment.

    I've also hear they feed best after dark...

    I do have a ruffe venue for you if you don't have one already?

  3. Loads of little streams and brooks near me so going to give those a go first, any insider knowledge welcome though.

    Just wait for a whip to turn up then I'm good to go. Might take you up in the offer of Sowe though be good to see what you have been doing. I'll give you a shout.

    1. You're welcome any time, Mick.

      Love the new blog. It's high time our 'ickle fishes' were taken more seriously. They ain't exactly easy either, are they?

  4. 1-05 and 1-02. I haven't a clue really but at least it starts the ball rolling.
    Mark H

    1. A little hot! Think "not quite a British record," Mark